Delta Teachers' Association president Paul Steer doesn't feel optimistic mediated talks will end the province-wide teachers' contract dispute.
The B.C. Teachers' Federation has gone to court in its ongoing effort to oust Charles Jago as mediator in the contract stalemate with the B.C.
Public School Employers Association.
The mediator, who was appointed this spring, is an advocate for the government rather than a negotiator that can help both sides reach a deal, claims the teachers' union.
Steer agreed, noting Jago, who is expected to deliver a report by the end of June, isn't seen by teachers as offering genuine mediation.
"He concedes he doesn't have mediation skills and also his mandate is circumscribed by Bill 22 itself, which really puts him in a position where he's going to be offering some nonbinding recommendations, but teachers aren't really expecting a reasonable outcome," he said.
"There were over 78 bargaining sessions provincially last year, but as we look toward the summer, the auspices are not pointing toward any reasonable settlement," Steer said. "That's what we'd prefer a return to a period of stability and predictability in the educational system. It seems government doesn't really want that."
The war of words between teachers and government heated up some weeks back when Bill 22, legislation banning any further strikes, was passed.
The legislation orders a "cooling off " period until the end of August, during which time both sides are to try to work out a new contract through a mediator.
It's something that seems unlikely at this stage as both sides still seem entrenched.
The DTA contends the new agreement Victoria is trying to impose must meet all government objectives for cutting costs and tightening its political control of public education.
"It would be good if the premier of B.C. could use her position and influence in cabinet to bring the parties together and achieve some kind of closure before school starts again in the fall," added Steer. "But so far, I'm not aware she's willing to take that step and talk to us."
In another development, the Labour Relations Board ruled that teachers have the right to withdraw their participation in voluntary extra-curricular activities.
BCTF president Susan Lambert welcomed the decision, saying it's a significant legal victory for teachers.
The employers association sought an order to end the BCTF's protest that resulted in thousands of teachers withdrawing from voluntary work such as coaching sports teams and supervising field trips. It argued the union protest amounts to an illegal strike.
The DTA membership voted to withdraw participation from extra-curricular activities even before the BCTF passed a provincewide resolution for all public school teachers to do the same.
Teachers have been without a contract for almost a year.
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